Project to cost $1.3 billion
By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer
On February 16, Premier John Horgan announced the NDP’s plans for a replacement to the Pattullo Bridge, which connects Surrey and New Westminster.
The project will cost roughly $1.3 billion and is slated to finish in 2023. Plans for a replacement have been considered for decades as the Pattullo Bridge has aged—it was built in 1937 and is considered not up to modern safety standards. Construction is expected to begin next summer.
The Pattullo Bridge has been the source of much concern and controversy in recent years due to its aging structure and the rapidly-increasing transit demands of the Lower Mainland. It has been due for an upgrade or replacement for decades and will be considered unsafe for drivers within the next five years, as it no longer meets safety standards. According to a 2016 TransLink report, the bridge could collapse under a small earthquake or severe windstorm. While proposals for a replacement have been brought up over the years, this is the first full official push towards a new bridge.
Funding for the new bridge will come entirely from the province, and not from TransLink as was originally planned. Federal funding is also not yet secured. This is the largest current obstacle to construction and planning, and many details are still to be decided.
The design features four lanes with room to expand, a potential dedicated cycling lane, and a toll-free system, similar to the Port Mann Bridge. The lack of tolls on the Port Mann Bridge is cited in the decision to keep the new bridge at only four lanes, as the Pattullo Bridge saw a decrease in use after the NDP removed tolls last year.
Criticism for the project is centered largely around the failure to secure federal funding and the continued back-and-forth arguments between the Liberals and NDP regarding the Massey Tunnel. BC Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson weighed in after Horgan’s announcement, saying that the province “rushed into this alone, and missed out on almost a half billion in federal infrastructure funding,” referencing the fact that the project will not wait for federal financing approval due to the unsafe nature of the current bridge.
With its planned four-year construction and $1.3 billion cost, this project is one of the largest undertakings by the new NDP government and will be core to the future of transportation in the Lower Mainland.